Friday, 15 September 2023

Firefly Alpha 'Victus Nox' Rapid Response launch [UPDATED]


click to enlarge

On September 15 at 2:28 UTC, Firefly Aerospace succesfully launched a Firefly Alpha rocket from SLC-2 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. It carried 'Victus Nox', a small satellite, as a Rapid Response launch exercise. 

The latter is a program where a payload is launched with a very short notice (60 hours) during which the carrier rocket and payload have to be readied and launched.

Navigational Warnings for the launch appeared on September 14. They point to launch into a ~97.8 degree inclined Sun-synchronous orbit (see map above).

140310Z SEP 23
NAVAREA XII 631/23(17,18,19).
   A. 150157Z TO 150319Z SEP, ALTERNATE
      160157Z TO 160319Z SEP IN AREA BOUND BY
      25-50.00N 126-00.00W, 26-00.00N 126-35.00W,
      25-28.00N 126-51.00W, 24-59.00N 125-50.00W,
      25-31.00N 125-33.00W.
   B. 150406Z TO 150413Z SEP, ALTERNATE
      160406Z TO 160413Z SEP IN AREA BOUND BY
      46-21.00N 143-08.00W, 28-18.00N 147-24.00W,
      27-54.00N 146-22.00W, 46-06.00N 141-21.00W.
2. CANCEL THIS MSG 160513Z SEP 23.//

Firefly Aerospace announced on September 15 that the launch was successful. Some imagery of te launch is here.



An object has now been catalogued by CSpOC as nr 57861 (2023-142A) in a 97.32 deg inclined, 476 x 531 km sun-synchronous orbit:


click image to enlarge

It has a slightly lower orbital altitude than I estimated and 0.5 degree lower orbital inclination:

click image to enlarge

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